Feeling Bookish: Life Lessons from Lean-In — Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Written By

Rupam Sabharwal

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Editor’s Note: Guest author Rupam discusses the book that changed her life in this Feeling Bookish installment. Write in with your thoughts on the books you love!

Most of us are Facebook addicts. We like, we comment and we share content. Thankfully, I landed on this shared video, which was Sheryl Sandberg’s TED TALK. It wasn’t 15 minutes of just another video. It led me to follow her and become a fan. Next, I read her book — Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.

She puts things so simply and makes them very relatable.  I thought of sharing the five valuable lessons I learnt from her book:

Women should not underestimate their abilities: 

She says, “Women are not making it to the top in any profession in any part of the world. The numbers are merely 15% and haven’t moved since 2002.”

She gives interesting examples of her day to day life, how women accept things the way they come to them and don’t negotiate. How women give credit to others for their accomplishments. You don’t move ahead if you don’t believe in yourself and don’t feel you deserve that. You must love yourself for what you are and make others see your abilities too. She mentions, “Fortune does favour the bold and you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.”

Make sure your job excites you: 

Sheryl Sandberg is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. Before she joined Facebook as its COO, she was Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google. Many would not want to leave a stable job for a newer organization. Sheryl talks about following your gut-feel.

Every morning when you get up, you must feel passionate and excited to go to work. If you don’t feel like that, think things over. You need to find something that you love doing. You and only you can decide the right career for yourself.

Don’t leave before you leave: 

Women start thinking too much into the future, way too early. Work in the present; don’t take decisions too far in advance. She says, “You need to start out your career with the assumption that you are going to stay in, Even if later on you do drop out for personal reasons, you shouldn’t go into your career thinking you will.” Many women assume too much and compromise on career goals to make room for partners and children who may come in the future. Women need to start aiming big.

Make your partner a real partner: 

When it is time to settle down, find a partner who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. When both partners are working; understanding, mutual respect and lifelong partnership emerges.

She says, “As a society we put more pressure on our boys to succeed than on the girls.” And it follows that society then expects the women to stay home and handle everything within the house. It is a harder job for both genders to work inside the house, than outside. Life will be more settled if your partner becomes your real partner within the home, so that both of you can succeed outside it.

Stop comparing yourself with others, It’s OK to have Guilt:

A common mistake we do, not only in our careers, but also in our lives is— ‘comparing yourself with others’. Everyone has a different journey, different purpose and path in life. One must not feel small or big based on what is happening in everyone else’s life. Follow your decisions and if they make you unhappy or dissatisfied; think, introspect and move forward.

A stay-at-home mom is not better or worse than a working mom. It’s OK to have guilt of not spending enough time with your kids or not being with them on their sports day. Sheryl Sandberg says, “Having it all is best regarded as a myth.”


I follow these five lessons in my life. I’ve been working for 7 years and like everyone, there have been highs and lows in both my work and personal life. In such situations, you compare yourself with others. These lessons helped me balance work, personal life and expectations. They helped in my understanding that I needed to believe in myself and my capability; and the fact that I am the best judge of my situation. Following these makes me happy and positive about myself.  I realised that life isn’t only about the office and home; I could not leave behind things that I loved i.e. my hobbies. That’s when I took time out for myself and started painting, craft and writing again!

These lessons help me in aiming big and having clarity in life. So, what are you waiting for? Lean in— you know your life, your goals and calling the best.

Do what you love and do it like you’re your own boss.




Rupam Sabharwal, 29, works as a Brand Manager and lives in Mumbai. She believes life is too short to waste any moment and the time to live life is now. She is a curious traveller and is always ready for a new experience. A creative soul who loves to paint and create DIY things for her home and loved ones. Learning, for her, never stops and she embraces every opportunity to learn something new. Dancing gives her a high and she does that like no one's watching. She loves reading and a cup of coffee with a book is her idea of a perfect break. Writing liberates her and is her passion. She also writes a blog called Roasted Papad, which is on experiences that touch her.

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